Man in the Mirror

Remembering Hollise Murphy 1985-2021

Shocks were felt around the underground music world when Hollise Murphy passed away on July 30. Hollise was an indestructible force both on and off stage. He shouted up a craze as the vocalist of Fat Stupid Ugly People (FSUP), an energetic powerviolence trio that featured him alongside guitarist John Angus Schexnayder and drummer Chris Prince. As one of New Orleans’ most devoted music fans, he was a constant presence in the city’s mosh pits. He was even well known far outside the city from his trips to see other bands perform elsewhere, always elevating any show he decided to grace with his presence. The 36-year-old left behind a legacy that will continue to shape underground music in New Orleans for years to come.

Fat Stupid Ugly People went out on a high note with a fiery set at Parisite Skatepark as part of Creepy Fest on July 16. At one point during the set, someone placed a Burger King crown on Hollise’s head. When I joked with him later that he had finally become “the crowned king of the New Orleans underground,” he immediately replied, “We’re all kings.”

Hollise never made things about himself, but his funeral and second line on August 14 were electric celebrations of what he meant to people. During the service, his sister Deonnice sang a touching rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror,” a deeply reflective song that she used to duet with Hollise. A lifesize cutout of Hollise paraded alongside a brass band and a large group of friends and family. Local punk band The Pallbearers even lived up to their namesake, something that would surely put a grin on Hollise’s face. In addition to the large in-person gathering, a livestream of the event garnered over 2,400 views.

Hollise is no longer with us but his spirit lives on, encouraging each of us to be better people and seek out the gnarliest of riffs. On the following pages, just a few of Hollise’s bandmates, heroes, and friends share their stories about what made him such a great figure in their lives. If given the space, they would easily fill multiple books with tales of their love for him.

Hollise is a living legend. It never mattered if you’ve known him for five years, five months, five weeks, five days, or even five seconds. He always made an impact on your life in the most genuinely positive way. I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of appreciation for him that has been pouring in from all across the U.S. as well as several countries overseas. That’s just how much of an incredible person he was. His social skills and charisma were always unmatched compared to everyone else. I remember times we would be walking around downtown and it would take us what felt like two hours just to walk one block, because we kept coming across friends that knew him and would stop to talk. I’ve had the pleasure of holding over a 20-year-long friendship with Hollise and it has been an unforgettable adventure every step of the way. Hollise was always the person who made the party an absolute blast, and it was never the same fun without him there. The one thing in life he always loved was music and going to see the show. People like Chris [Prince] and I (along with former members Seth, Tyler, Lou, Jherri, and Jason) made it possible for Hollise to become the show. His passion for the music always made it a spectacle to behold, whether he was on stage with FSUP, NEMESIS DESTROYER, had the microphone handed to him from another band, or in the pit getting everyone hyped up. He was always the highlight of the show. The love for his friends he’s made along the way is irreplaceable, and his legacy will be forever carved into our community’s history. He’s the most incredible frontman you could ever share the stage with and the most awesome best friend/big brother you could ever ask for. It has been the highest honor having him in our lives. His wish is for all of us to Stay Awesome. John Angus Schexnayder (FSUP)

Hollise’s impact on FSUP’s success was monumental. Me and Angus are pretty good musicians and managed to put some good songs together, but Hollise really made the band unique. He not only could execute any type of hardcore vocals exceptionally well, but had so much energy and was a great entertainer. He knew how to engage the crowd and get people excited about the music. Additionally, he was a great networker due to his great personality and how outgoing he was. He could engage in a meaningful conversation with any type of person, and almost instantly become a close friend. In doing so, he made a lot of great connections and got us a lot of really good shows, as well as attracting people to our shows. He was the driving force behind our band. His love and passion can’t be matched. —Chris Prince (FSUP)

RIP to one of my oldest friends. Someone who I can say, without any reservation, is the model for how people should treat each other. He took pride in everything, and for the rest of his life, he would rep our little shit town Red Church and our Boy Scout Troop 317 when he saw me. Whenever you were talking to Hollise in a circle, he would always look outside the group when talking. I used to rip on him when we were younger like, “Hollise, man… the conversation is in here.” But when we got older, I realized that was because Hollise was always pulling other people off the wall, through the conversation, and straight into the limelight. —Jason Rodriguez (Goura, ex-FSUP)

Hollise was probably the most positive person I’ve ever met. I feel lucky to have been his friend and to have spent as much time with him as I did over the past few years. We did a lot of travelling together. We hung out constantly, either watching movies or going to shows. It got to a point where if he wasn’t at a local New Orleans show, people began to question where he was or why he wasn’t there. He was a constant figure and everybody loved him. In June 2019, I broke my right leg in three places. A freak accident, but really severe. Hours after it happened, I was all drugged up at the hospital: They gave me fentanyl, dilaudid, and morphine for the pain. I could barely talk on the phone at this point, but I called Hollise at 11:30 p.m. And of course he came and picked me up in his van. Once I was coherent, I realized I was in bad shape. I thanked him for picking me up and bringing me home that night, but I knew I needed help. I couldn’t drive. I asked Hollise if there was any way he could assist me over the next few months: take me to the hospital, physical therapy, grocery store, etc. He was my savior. He took me to every single doctor’s appointment for four months, no matter the time. Hollise had a habit of staying up all night, and most times my appointments or physical therapy was early in the morning. He would come over the night before and hang out all night, either watching movies or listening to music until it was time to bring me to the doctor’s. He always came through for me. I never missed a single appointment. Plus, he would bring me to the store, post office, etc., not to mention help me out with whatever I needed at home since I was pretty much helpless. I can’t imagine anyone helping me out the way he did. He was like my guardian angel, not to mention he was just a wonderful and fun guy to be around. Everyone wanted to be his buddy and I’m grateful for the time we were able to spend together. He was one of a kind. The world will not see another more gracious person than Hollise Murphy. I will forever miss him and I know everyone else who knew him will feel the same way. He was the epitome of kindness. I hope a little bit of his personality rubbed off on me. —Carl Elvers

We all know that Hollise Murphy was a beautiful, positive ray of punk/metal sunshine and a confident enigma in an otherwise downward spiraling world of confusion. As I look back, one thing stands out: Hollise was such a huge part of the NOLA scene that I have no idea when I actually met him! I know others that say the same thing. This mystery, I think, is due to the fact that when being friends with Hollise you felt like you knew him ALL your life. There was no set point in my existence of making his acquaintance… or not knowing him. I felt like I knew him right outta the gate. It was as if we went to kindergarten together, maybe were both raised by the same parents, or were possibly both created in a clandestine laboratory in Guatemala? He was Family (with a capital F), that’s the bottom line, ever present, and flashing that gregarious smile that immediately let me know that “This is gonna be fun.” Valhalla awaits thee, my brother. —Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod)

Fat Stupid Ugly People at Bayou Park Bar, 2011 (photo by Gary LoVerde)

The first time I met Hollise I was doing merch after my band finished playing. He came up and started chatting about all the bands that had just played, his band FSUP, and music in general. I was instantly amazed by his excitement and sincerity about music, his kindness and immediate support. He wanted to buy a t-shirt and I shamefully told him I didn’t have one in his size. He told me that it was alright and maybe next time. We continued talking and with each passing moment, I became increasingly disappointed that I let that magic man down. I ordered one the very next day and printed it upon arrival. The next show we played I ran to the merch bin the moment I caught a glimpse of him, presented him with his tee, and I received the first of many, “That’s what’s up.” It was a shot of dopamine. He immediately put it on, another shot. During the show he was up front, fist raised with a big smile, having fun, three more shots. I never let him down again. Hollise’s t-shirts thereafter were presented to him the moment I saw him, 3XL and free. For if a band was cool, Hollise would be rockin’ their tee. Forever brokenhearted… —Heather Vinz (Static Static, Heavy Lids)

I’m pretty sure it was January 2014 when I first met Hollise Murphy. I was playing a show in Baltimore and the crowd was sedate, like they were bored or on ludes, with the exception of this one huge dude—he had a crazed look in his eyes and started a one-man pit, grabbing the mic and singing along, doing stage dives even though it was clear no one would (or could) catch him. He didn’t care that no one else was into it. He didn’t care that he was the only person in the room going off. Hollise had just ridden the Greyhound bus 36 hours to get there and sure as shit wasn’t going to let anyone stand in the way of him enjoying every second of it. He talked to me that night like an old friend, and indeed, this gregarious dude who I’d just met was suddenly an old friend. That’s the best way I can describe this die-hard: your best friend, even if you just met him. I saw him many times over the years in many different cities—Los Angeles, Tucson, Dallas, and best of all, NOLA, where we were lucky enough to share the stage with his band. All my friends who knew him loved him. No, really… everybody. No one ever said a single bad thing about him. That’s the level of respect everyone in the scene had for Hollise Murphy. Nothing but love for The King. Thank you for the honor of knowing you, old friend. —Chris Dodge (Trappist, Spazz, ex-Despise You, ex-Infest)

Ten years ago on the eve of Hollise’s 26th birthday, we were leaving a friend’s house in Lakeview to go see Shitstorm at Zeitgeist. We were pretty high, and we noticed a police car nearby while walking to my car. At the time, I had long hair and a Rasta beanie and Hollise had on a Mutilation Rites shirt with an image of Baphomet on it, but we tried to play it cool like nothing was out of the ordinary. Needless to say, we were promptly pulled over and Hollise tried to eat his weed. The officer ran out of his car with his gun drawn and yelled, “Spit it out! Do you want to die tonight motherfucker?!” With a mouthful of weed, Hollise mumbled, “No!” We both went to jail, and our friend bailed me out. Once I got out, we met with a bail bondsman to figure out how much it would cost to get Hollise out, and it wound up being a few hundred bucks. We grabbed some pickle jars, printed Hollise’s mugshot out and taped them to the jars with a description of what happened and “Free Hollise!” written on them. Then we put the jars at Siberia and Checkpoint Charlie’s. Word spread fast and everybody who knew Hollise chipped in to get him out in time to play a show with Fat Stupid Ugly People at the Dragon’s Den that Sunday (six days after being arrested). Everybody there wished him a happy belated birthday. He brought everybody together to enjoy life to the fullest and look out for each other. Fast forward to August 5, 2021, and the City Council just pardoned 10,000 marijuana convictions and agreed to no longer charge people for simple possession. If he were here, I think he’d say that’s pretty rad. —DC Young

Photo by Nathan Tucker

We’ve only met Hollise twice back in 2010 and 2011 ‘coz he organized a show for us in New Orleans in both years. We’ve known him to be a warm, sincere, funny and a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He’s so accommodative and really takes good care of us and our tour driver. His hospitality is really embedded in my mind til today. And he never fails to wish me on my birthday each year. That really means a lot to me. Really sad he went off before we even got to see him again. Our deepest condolences to his family. For sure, this world has lost yet another great person. —Azean (Wormrot)

I first met Hollise at Dixie Taverne in the early 2000s. He started showing up at a bunch of hardcore gigs with enthusiasm that the scene really needed. Oftentimes, the shows would just be people standing there staring at the bands with not much movement. Suddenly, there was someone there that consistently kept the pit alive and he had the right attitude. The dude was 16. Naturally we became friends and that friendship grew every year. Hanging at hundreds of gigs, so many jokes cracking, lots of t-shirt complimenting, music recommendations, one point could sum up what I was trying to say… Hollise taught us how to live. —Bill Heintz (The Pallbearers, The Unnaturals, Dummy Dumpster)

Hollise always kept it positive and I don’t think his light will ever go away. After trying to recount all the good times and moments, this is the one that really makes my heart swell. I remember he, Adam [Harris], Bauer (my dog), and I going on a road trip to Austin for Housecore Horror Film Fest 2014. On the way back, Adam’s van broke down in Houston. It was a Monday and it was hot, even though it was in October. Plus, we were all exhausted and most likely hungover (well, not Hollise, of course). The traffic was the worst and that stretch between Austin and New Orleans just plain sucks. We were so ready to get home. As exhausting and long as that trek home was, I never felt too annoyed. Hollise kept it funny and positive, as he does. In fact, I actually enjoyed it because we all just laughed the entire time. If he wasn’t there, I imagine things would have been different and not nearly as fun. That’s just a small example of his magical effect. It’s hard to think of that trip since both Hollise and Adam are gone now. I remember them both nerding out over music while Bauer and I watched them from the backseat. It gives me a little comfort to think they’re doing the same thing now. It also breaks my heart a little, but I’ll continue to try and keep it positive. Just like Hollise would do. —Lillian Aguinaga (artist)

Design by Bill Heintz; photo by David Young

Hollise was as cool as it gets. Whenever I’d get time to go out to a show, whether it was local bands or national acts, he’d be there, all smiles, hugs, and always a new band to discuss. Such a loss for everyone he came in contact with. He will be missed. —Phil Anselmo (Down)

Every encounter I had with Hollise was over-the-top filled with pure love! So much of it that it was intoxicating! To say that he was an enlightened soul is an understatement. The impact he’s had on me and my family will never be forgotten. Truly a one of a kind soul that touched so many of our lives and across the board with nothing but über positivity! I thank the universe for introducing us when we did! RIP Hollise. —Marzi Montazeri (Exhorder, Heavy As Texas)

Hollise Murphy was the most special person many of us will ever know. He was the best of us. Whether you grew up with him, just got here, or were just touring through, he made sure you felt welcome here, like family. That’s just the way he was. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him. Last year Lillian and I orchestrated a small birthday party for him. We knew we had to keep it low-key or the whole city would show up. Nevertheless, he was a man that needed to be celebrated. Every year of life we had him on this planet was a blessing. Every person he met was blessed by his support, love, and kindness. He would often message his friends to tell us how awesome he thought we are. It always warmed my heart receiving a text from him. He was the glue that held us all together. No show here will ever be the same without him and he will be missed for all eternity. —Emily Morgan (Torture Garden)

All I can say is he was truly one of a kind. You always knew you were at a good show when he would walk through the door with his smile and laughter. He always inspired everyone. In an already depleted music scene in the area, I know it’s never gonna be the same to not have Hollise there anymore. I will always love him, always miss him, and I’ll NEVER forget him. —Pat Bruders (Down, Swingin’ Doors)

If it wasn’t for Hollise, I simply wouldn’t be involved in the New Orleans underground like I am now. Growing up in New Orleans (late ‘90s, early 2000s), I was often ostracized for the music/things that I liked. Weird thing to say about NOLA, but because I’m Black, it’s just how it was. I still did whatever I wanted, but it didn’t come without nonsense and realizations of expectations when folks started calling me “white” for these things. I was a lil loner emo kid going through a lot. After 2005 and a lot of fucking moving over the span of a few years, we moved to the Northshore and as I got older, it was a talented, yet mess of an example of a music “community,” but I did make some good “We gotta get the fuck out of here” friends that I still have to this day. Any chance I could get to GTF, we would pile in a car and trek the causeway to get back to the (at the time) High Ground/THEE Cypress to catch literally anyfuckingthing we could. Once those venues were gone, though, we’d go to Siberia or OEJ which is where I first really saw Hollise and truly, the first time I saw someone that looked like me showing up like that. And on top of it, he wasn’t being ignored or had people making fun of him, he was dominating the pit, taking up all the space. I was always like, “Damn… hell yeah.” I just didn’t see any other Black folks doing this shit and I always felt like I never could belong ‘cos of what I experienced, so I was fine being in my own lil corner. But he didn’t give a shit, clearly! Every time I’d go out, I’d see him, and would be more and more comfortable. I was finally starting to get over the othering feelings I had and by the time I moved back here as an adult I really embraced punk as my favorite. I was going to almost any and every show I could. I’m not that old, 27 now, but I may have met Hollise for the first time when I was like 22. One day at some show at Siberia, we dapped off through mutual friends and smoked and talked about who was playing. Later on, the lot of us got into the pit and he crashed into me and I thought that was a wrap and that he was just a really fuckin’ cool dude. I was so grateful that he’d always be around and I would always catch him with a joint in my hand like, “Yo hit this” and we’d take three seconds to talk about the band (“Yo that shit was so fire, cuz,” “Who the fuck was that?” ‘cos he almost always knew OFC). Then I’d grab it, dap him off to go find my other friends and make my rounds, hang by myself on that stoop next door to finish it, and go right back in. But THEN??? I saw Fat Stupid Ugly People live and was mind-blown. There just weren’t any other local bands on my radar showing out like y’all did with a fuckin’ badass fat Black man up front. (I learned of others after, shoutout to Raccoon City Massacre and GLAND back in 2015 who were also important for me to see in their representation!). But there’s one instance that made me realize how much of a community-centered person he was that I always would think about. I remember seeing Death (Detroit punk) at their first ever New Orleans show at Siberia and OFC Hollise was there! So many people were, but I stayed right up front the entire time. I think they closed out with “Let The World Turn” and I was a fucking mess as they dedicated it to passed loved ones, and I was thinking heavy about a friend that passed earlier that year. As it ended, I ran into him by the merch table and was crying and freaking the fuck out and he was so there for listening to me explode with admiration for one of my favorite bands and how important they were to me. The merch guy was really sweet and suggested that we take a picture with the band, but when I went to get him in the pic he waved me off and said he’d take it and send it to me. Merch guy gave me a free Death shirt, I hugged all the bandmembers (who were all SO SWEET TO US), some other friends and Hollise, and it was an absolutely crucial sense of “you fuckin belong here” that I never really felt before. I’ve thought about that a lot and cry thinking about it now ‘cos seeing him, it was always like that! It’s what I really hope to perpetuate in these different creative communities. As I get older, I go to more shows and see more POC in the crowd every time. I can’t help but think that a lot of those folks felt comfortable seeing Hollise in the same way I did and showed up ‘cos he’s been steadily just always out here. I hope that part could be transferred somehow, that the younger POC folks who feel like they don’t belong in a pit or on a punk stage could learn of Hollise somehow, and start to not give a fuck like I did. The kids seem alright though ‘cos I fuckin see ‘em out here as more and more barriers get broken by similar powerhouses of color. Cool vibes and good times ahead for them. —YOKO (artist)

Design by Bill Heintz; photo by Donald Rager

I met him at several of our shows. First time he was wearing a grass hula skirt! The type of very nice and sociable person that I can aspire to be, pretty much impossible to attain. —Kurt Brecht (D.R.I.)

The first time I saw Hollise I was 12 years-old at a show at Cypress Hall. I watched him take out a crowd of people standing on the side of the pit like they were bowling pins. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty intimidated. I definitely never could’ve imagined he’d be the kind, gentle person he was that would teach me so much about life. Hollise always knew just what to say, and on the rare occasion he didn’t, he at least had the right song to play for you. He lit up every room he walked into. The moment Hollise walked in the club everyone in attendance knew their night had just gotten better. Hollise did more for the New Orleans scene than anyone just by being there. He lived his life doing what made him happy and answered to no one. He was one of the friendliest people you’d ever meet. Whether you knew him for two minutes or two decades, he managed to make a lasting impression through his kindness and amazing sense of humor. I don’t think there’s anywhere I’ve visited across the country where I didn’t meet someone who knew Hollise. At just about every show or festival I’ve traveled to, after telling someone I was from New Orleans, their first question would usually be: “OH! Do you know Hollise?!” He had a laugh and smile that was contagious. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in my life than I would after hearing his impression of Vinnie Stigma from Agnostic Front. “STIGMA, 35 FAWKIN YEARS!” There wasn’t an ounce of hate in Hollise’s body. Even if he didn’t particularly like something, the most I ever heard him say bad about anything was, “Meh.” In one of the last conversations I had with my brother, he told me better days were soon to come, we just gotta keep the faith. Even in the worst of times Hollise would keep that positive mental attitude that we all knew and loved him for. I think the world could be a much better place if we all took a chapter or even just a few pages from Hollise’s book. Rest in power brother, I know you’re watching over us from the million man circle pit in the sky. —Dominic Bischone

For more photos, stories, and art, as well as ways you can contribute to Hollise’s family, check out the public Facebook group “STAY AWESOME: a memorial page for Hollise Murphy.” Candle image and photo by Lillian Aguinaga. Top photo by Gary LoVerde.

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